When we go through tests and trials, there is often a roller coaster of emotions. But we don’t have to let our emotions run the show! As believers, how can we learn to live by something other than our feelings and emotions?
Also read about the meanings of God’s name, how joy follows loving discipline, and how the truths of the Gospel contain the power of God.
Our friend Job is on quite a roller coaster. In yesterday’s reading he had some of the most incredible revelation from God and in today’s reading He thinks God has totally abandoned him.
Isn’t that a picture of the roller coaster of emotions we can all experience when we are going through a test or trial? The important thing to remember is that even though the feelings are there, they’re real, and they’re often strong, we don’t have to be controlled by our emotions. By that I mean, we don’t have to let them determine the way we act and respond!
In spite of all his roller coaster feelings, Job stayed faithful to God. Remember what his wife said at the beginning, “Why don’t you just curse God and die!” (my paraphrase). But Job didn’t waver from his faith in God, even though he didn’t understand why God was allowing all this calamity.
So how can we avoid letting emotions run the show in our own lives?
“Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.”
I know these are hard verses for some and something that flies in the face of much of the current child psychology.
As with other areas of thought, psychologists say one thing and God’s Word says another. We must each answer the question, “What is your source of truth?”
That was God’s question to Adam and Eve.
God had said, “Don’t eat the fruit for if you do you will surely die.” Then Satan came along and said, “You will not surely die, but you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The passage goes on to say that their eyes were opened and they saw that “they were naked.” God’s question to them was, “Who told you that you were naked?” In other words, what or who is your source of truth?
Of course, we must remember that Scripture is to be interpreted in light of other Scripture. Ephesians 6.4 says, “… do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” We must have the right heart attitude when we discipline our children. God does not want us to discipline our children in a way that would injure them, neither are we to do it in anger.
This passage is talking about “loving” physical discipline used when appropriate. Discipline that hurts enough to make an impression, but not so much as to do bodily harm. It should be done in love, with the best interest of the child in mind, and should include loving instruction in helping the child come to genuine repentance.
The “rod” might be a wooden spoon for a younger child or a small flat paddle for one a little older. Again, something that will sting and bring tears, but not anything that would do real harm.
I’ve heard many of the arguments against spanking. Number one among them is that they will just learn to hit, too. But when discipline is administered lovingly on the backside with a “honey-I-love-you-too-much-to-let-you-go-your-own-way” attitude, even a young child knows the difference between a spanking and hitting in anger.
There are a number of good books on the subject of child discipline from a biblical perspective. I’ll include some links at the bottom.
Today’s Other Readings:
Job 27 & 28:
The Secret Things Belong to the LORD
In chapter 28 Job talks about the precious things in life which men will work so hard to dig out of the earth—gold, silver, precious stones. Then in verse 12 he says:
“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?”
The Bible teaches that the wisdom of God—that is—that measure of wisdom which He gives to men and women must be dug out, too. But there is, also, a wisdom that remains with God.
Verse 13, “Man does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living.”
Deuteronomy 29.29 says:
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
God doesn’t always see fit to explain everything He does to us! There are things and truths and reasons which we will not know until we get to heaven, if then. But there are things that we can understand and those things are revealed to us through His Word. Continue reading →
Job and his friends disagreed about the source of Job’s troubles, but they did not disagree about the glory, power, and holiness of God. Here in chapter 26, Job says …
He hangs the earth on nothing. He binds up the water in His thick clouds, yet the clouds are not broken under it … He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters, at the boundary of light and darkness. The pillars of heaven tremble, and are astonished at His rebuke. He stirs up the sea with His power, and by His understanding He breaks up the storm … Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?” (v. 7-8, 10-14).
Think about that phrase, “these are the mere edges of His ways.” Even when we view the beauty and majesty of creation or see His power in lightning, hurricanes, and volcanoes or study the intricacies of the human body or watch the birth of a baby, we are only seeing the mere edges of His ways … the mere edges of His power … His wisdom … His glory … His holiness … and His sovereignty. What an awesome God we serve!
As Paul is winding up the book of Romans, he tells us that, as believers, we are able to admonish one another when biblically necessary. That means risking what people may think, even their rejection, to speak the truth in love when there is an issue that is hurting others, hindering their walk with God, or hurting the cause of Christ.
In our fast changing world, many things that were once universally considered wrong are now called right. Speaking up when God’s standards are at stake is going to be more and more costly … but God’s grace will abound to those who remain faithful to God and His Word.
And notice to whom this passage was written and what we need to do before we go to someone.
Also, when it comes to our political leaders, how should a clear understanding of God’s sovereignty and His commands concerning authority, effect how we speak and respond now?
Verse 4, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
The Scriptures, in particular the Old Testament (like the book of Job which we are going through), were written so that we might grow and learn by the examples of others, good and bad. God patiently instructs us in how we should change and shows us the results of unbiblical living. And as we grow and come to understand God’s love and grace, we find comfort in His faithfulness to those who remained devoted to Him.
Admonishing When Needed
Let’s look at one more verse in Romans 15:
“Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another” (v. 14).
Notice this verse is not written to pastors or counselors or spiritual leaders. It was written to the believers at Rome and by extension to us as believers. Paul says all of us are “able to admonish one another.” That word for admonish means, “exhort, admonish, and instruct.” Admonish means, “to rebuke or to advise or warn someone to do, or not do, something.”
So God expects us to be willing to get our hands dirty, to risk what people may think of us and even rejection, at times, to speak the truth in love to those who are sinning, as well as, those who need encouragement.
However, we must guard against a harsh or self-righteous attitude. We are to confront others lovingly, gently, tentatively, especially if we’re not sure of the circumstances, and humbly. That requires checking our own motives and a careful self-examination to make sure we take the logs out of our own eyes first (Matt. 7.3-5).
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6.1).
As we continue to read through God’s Word, especially the book of Job, it’s tempting to grow tired or get confused by all that is happening. As we read of Job’s sufferings, his friends’ lack of mercy and grace, and God’s silence so far, we should ask ourselves some questions:
How will coming to understand this better help me be more patient in my sufferings and disappointments? How can I learn to trust God more? What can I learn from listening to Job’s “comforters“? What can I learn from Job about responding to unjust criticism?
Often when we fail to grow in our understanding of Scripture it’s because we fail to ask the right questions. Continue reading →
One person believes she is free to have a glass of wine with dinner. Another believes it is a sin. One believes it is OK to eat pork. Another believes the Old Testament dietary laws should still be adhered to. One believes a certain book, or movie, or TV show is allowable; another’s conscience is offended by it. One thinks “Christian contemporary music” is great, another believes worship has to be hymns.
Certainly, there are lifestyle choices which are clearly right and wrong, sinful and good, but there is also a great deal of freedom in Christ. Whatever we do, however, we need to be able to do it in faith:
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin (v. 23).
Even if something is not sinful, in and of itself, if we believe it is and do it anyway, it reveals a heart that is willing to sin against God and is, therefore, sinful.
One of the key points in this chapter, though, is that we should be willing to forego things we believe we are free to do, if what we are doing could be offensive or a stumbling block to someone else (Rom 14.13). Love considers the welfare of others above his or her own (Phil. 2.3-4).
In chapter 21 Job tried to convince his friends that their conclusion about his suffering was wrong. He reasoned that because the wicked are not always punished in this life, they couldn’t say good is always rewarded and evil always punished. He pointed out that, at times, even people who shake their fist at God seem to do so with impunity. Continue reading →
True worship is more than a time of music and singing. True worship involves how we live our lives, whether we obey God or respond by hardening our hearts to His commands.
Also, God is a God of order and He has ordained authority as part of that order. No matter what we think, we are not living obediently if we aren’t fully submitted to the authority He has placed in our lives.
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. 7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you will hear His voice: 8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work.
True worship is more than merely showing up at church to sing and raise our hands. It is submitting our hearts and lives to God in obedience and realizing that “He is God.” It’s then that we “will hear His voice.”
No matter how often we attend church or what kind of outward religious activity we perform, if we’re not submitted to God in our hearts, which is demonstrated by our obedience, we are no different from those who hardened their hearts, rebelled, and tested God.
In spite of all his miseries, Job could still say, “For I know that my Redeemer lives …” That should put most of us to shame! He went on to say, “… I shall see God.” So no matter what, he was sure of his eternal destiny. Continue reading →
It’s been said that either you have just come out of a trial, are presently in a trial, or are about to go through one. Trials expose our hearts. They remove the dross from our lives–those things which keep us from bringing glory to God as we should. But there are things we need to understand about trials and our responses.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: Coming Forth as Gold
We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” In earlier posts we covered anger, depression, fear, worry, and guilt. If you missed any of them, just click on the link. You’ll find them all there.
Last week we talked about how God uses tests, trials, and suffering in our lives as a divine squeeze to let us and others see what’s in our hearts. We looked at biblical and unbiblical perspectives on tests and trials and God’s purposes in them. I hope you’ll take the time to read it if you haven’t, especially, if you’re going through a challenging time.
Today we’ll talk about our responses to tests and trials, how we can please Him during those difficult times, how we become like Christ as a result, and the resources God has given us.
Coming Forth as Gold
Nothing exposes our hearts as much as trials do. When trouble hits us, it’s easy to see the areas where we’re not fully committed to and trusting in God. But God doesn’t allow tests and trials to trip us up or so He can point His finger at us. God allows, even designs, trials to strengthen and purify us. Job said, “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10, NASB).
But, as I pointed out last week, we sometimes have unbiblical perspectives regarding trials and suffering. We can believe:
That they’re always our fault.
That they’re always the other person’s fault. We can have a “victim” mentality.
That they’re no one’s fault. This is divine fatalism.
That they’re God’s fault. He causes everything, even sin.
Or the Deistic view—that God isn’t involved in it at all. This is the belief that God created everything, but now He just stands back and watches without getting involved.
Then we looked at some biblical perspectives on trials and suffering:
That they’re ultimately the result of the Adam’s fall (Gen 3).
That God is the remote cause. In other words, He allows them, but He’s never the cause of our sin.
That God is sovereign and He works all things according to His plan and purpose, including trials and suffering.
That they’re always for God’s glory and our eternal good, even though God may temporarily set aside our happiness to accomplish something greater.
So, since God has allowed whatever we’re experiencing and it’s for our good, how should we respond?
Responding to Tests & Trials
It’s important to understand that we’re accountable for our responses no matter how we feel. We’re to respond in ways that please God. That should be our goal in life no matter what our circumstances.
9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5.9-10).
While it may be easy to justify wrong responses, God gives us the grace to respond rightly.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Cor. 10.13).
We shouldn’t pray to just “hang in there” or somehow get through trials and suffering. We should ask God to help us grow in the midst of the difficulty and to become more like Christ (Rom 8.28-29; Jas 1.2-4).
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (Jas 1.2-4).
While we may not always rejoice in the suffering itself, we can rejoice in the fact that a sovereign God can work through the trial.
Most of us can look back and see how God has used other trials for our good and how we’ve grown in our faith and trust in Him, not in spite of trials, but because of them.
So, what are some of the specific reasons God allows trials and sufferings?
Some of the “Why’s”
While we need to be careful of demanding to know “why,” there are some why’s God has revealed in His Word.
Because of unconfessed sin (1 Cor. 11.30; 2 Kings 5.15-27).
In talking about the Lord’s supper in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul said:
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
The Lord’s supper is a time to remember what Christ did and a reminder of the importance of examining ourselves, but self-examination is something we should do on a regular basis.
Because the people had failed to do so and to confess and forsake sin, many were sick, some had died, and some were “weak.” That word weak means, “having a propensity for sickness.” We might say “sickly.”
Of course, we need to use caution when viewing the suffering of others. We can’t assume they are guilty of sin. That was the problem with Job’s counselors. Continue reading →
As followers of Christ, we are to become living sacrifices. One way we do that is in our relationships with other people. We are to love, prefer, and do good to others even when they hurt us. An impossible calling, if we try to do it in our own strength!
Also, read about the danger of being lulled into complacency by the comforts and favor of worldly people.
We’re closing in on two-thirds of the year gone and two-thirds of the Bible read! Congratulations to those of you who are still going!
But even if you just joined us, the Word of God is always profitable!
On to our Bible reading …
Our Impossible Calling
Verse 1 begins, “I beseech you therefore, …”
Paul is saying “therefore”—because of everything I’ve just told you in chapters 1-11, let these truths change the way you think and act. Then he goes on to tell us of some of the specific ways, our salvation should be lived out.
He begins by asking us to offer our bodies as “living sacrifices.” We’re called to sacrificial living.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (v. 1).
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality (vss. 10-13).
We’re to honor others and prefer them above ourselves, not with an “if I’ve got to” attitude, but “fervent in spirit”—enthusiastically, joyfully. This is something we should rejoice in doing out of gratitude for all Christ has done for us!
We should gladly serve the Lord, remain hopeful, believe the best of others, be patient when tempted to be impatient, be faithful in prayer, be a giver and show hospitality to others.
Verses 14 and following up the ante even more! We are to “bless those who persecute us” (v. 14), rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (v. 15), associate with people of humble means (v. 15) instead of always trying to move up on the social ladder (v. 16), not think too highly of ourselves or get the idea we have arrived (v. 16), and refuse to repay evil with evil but return good to the very one who has hurt us (vss. 17-21).
Most of us will have opportunities in life to offer comfort to those suffering and grieving. Will you be a miserable comforter like Job’s friends or be able to offer “a word fitly spoken” (Prov. 25.11)?
Eliphaz and Job’s other “comforters” were faced with a dilemma most of us are faced with at one time or another—how to speak truth and yet bring comfort when someone else is suffering.
We can be faced with this dilemma when an unbeliever dies, for example. How do you comfort the family without giving false hope about the basis of salvation? We can’t say we are sure their loved one is in heaven, but we can say that no one knows a person’s heart except God alone. Only He knows what transpired in the past, or even in the days or moments before death. We can encourage the surviving loved one to trust in the goodness and perfect judgment of God.
It’s also an opportunity to share with the family the importance of being sure they are in right relationship with God and not leave their family wondering about them should something tragic happen.
Families also need comfort when they or someone close to them is suffering. This can be because of the illness of a child or spouse, a divorce, or some other tragedy.
In the beginning, often the best thing we can do is just be there … with a hug, a listening ear, or just our presence. What we don’t want to do is lecture them and act like we know what is going on in the mind of God like Job’s “comforters” did. Job ended up calling them “miserable comforters” (Job 16.2)! Continue reading →
In chapter 13, after strongly rebuking his friends, Job turns his attention directly to God. He is at a loss to understand why all this calamity has come on him. In chapter 14 he talks to God about the frailness of humanity and seems to prepare himself to die, perhaps even yearning for it.
Be sure to read MacArthur’s notes for today’s readings. He jumps ahead to some of the later chapters as he explains that Job’s problem was not the belief that he was righteous, as his friends thought, but his over-familiarity in demanding an answer to why he was suffering such hardship.
We, too, can be tempted to demand answers to our “whys.” While I don’t believe God is put-off by sincere questions from his hurting children, we need to remember that He is God and we are not! Isaiah 55.8-9:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
In chapter 40 we will see Job’s reaction after God responded to all his why’s. He said, “I lay my hand over my mouth” (Job 40.4).